A door closing for Rob Kelley on Tuesday meant another one was opening for Washington Redskins rookie running back Samaje Perine.
The fourth-round pick out of the University of Oklahoma will see his role increased dramatically after the team placed Kelly on injured reserve with a sprained MCL and a high ankle sprain. It’s another tough break for a Redskins team that has been plagued with injuries all season, but they’ll get a chance to at least see what they have in Perine as a running back.
He has had 66 carries for 210 yards in his brief appearances on the field. Even with Kelley in the lineup, the Redskins ranked in the bottom-half of the NFL in rushing yards. It’s longshot odds that Perine could improve the bad rushing numbers when he’s only running for 3.2 yards per carry.
The Redskins really aren’t any worse off than they already were at running back.
Chris Thompson has been the team’s best option by far in the backfield. He currently leads all backs with 277 yards rushing and all receivers with 494 receiving yards. There is no better all-around option for quarterback Kirk Cousins on the field.
That isn’t to say Kelley wasn’t capable of playing better. He has been hobbled with injuries all season, and his persistence to play through the pain might have led his undoing this season.
“It’s weird because you can’t just sit out because we ain’t got room to sit out,” Kelley recently told The Washington Post. “You can’t complain, ‘Oh, I’m hurt.’ Everybody is hurt, so what are you going to do? Are you going to keep on playing and try and help your teammates, or are you going to keep on whining? I think at this point, it’s all about trying to help my team win than the stats. I think in the beginning [of the season], I had set myself on a pace to actually do some of the things that I really wanted to do. But with injuries and stuff like that, it kind of went a different way. Now the goal is just winning.”
Given that the Redskins clearly prefer using Thompson as more of a third down option, Perine could get the bulk of the early-down carries.
He’ll have to exhibit better patience and vision if he has any hope of making an impact on offense. Even if he struggles, it isn’t like the Redskins aren’t prepared to lead with an offense completely dependent on the arm of Cousins.
That’s been their approach the last three years.
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